Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake calls to scrap rule meaning women must experience three miscarriages before being able to seek support

Women should not have to face three miscarriages before getting support, an MP has told the Commons.

Olivia Blake Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam, spoke out yesterday calling for an end to the current rule on women only being entitled to care and support after enduring three miscarried pregnancies.

The politician bravely spoke last year about miscarrying her first child, which she described as an isolating experience.

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She spoke in November of how she had had to tell her partner what had happened in a hospital car park as he was unable to attend an appointment with her due to coronavirus restrictions.

Olivia Blake in the Commons last night

In a debate in the Commons yesterday evening, Ms Blake raised a recent series of papers published in British medical journal, The Lancet, entitled ‘Medical Matters’, as well as a petition by neonatal care charity Tommy's on support for women after miscarriages.

“For too long, miscarriage has been a taboo,” she said.

“I am so pleased that prominent women like Meghan Markle and [singer and presenter] Myleene Klass have been brave enough to speak and break the taboo around their experiences.”

Currently, an estimated one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, while Black mothers face 44 per cent higher risk compared to white women.

Ms Blake added: “It shouldn’t be that they should just be a fact of life, and I’m concerned that this attitude speaks to a woder gendered inequalities in our society.”

“What is clear to me is that, Covid or not, there are some huge holes - sometimes voids - in the care provided.

“There seems to be a general lack of understanding that whilst miscarriage is common, it is also incredibly traumatic and can lead to mental health problems.”

She added that since her miscarriage last year, she had been admitted to hospital and diagnosed with diabetes - an issue which she said may have been picked up sooner had she received post-miscarriage care.

Calling for changes, she said the ‘rule of three’ must end, saying, “we wouldn’t expect someone to go through three heart attacks before doctors tried to find out what was wrong”.

Responding, Nadine Dorries Minister for Health and Social Care, said: “The three papers in The Lancet provide an important insight into the prevalence, effects and costs of miscarriage.

“Women who suffer from miscarriage are 3.8 times more likely to die by suicide.

“That is why, as part of the NHS long term plan, we are improving access and quality of perinatal mental healthcare for mothers and their partners affected by their experience during miscarriage.”

Ms Dorries said mental health hubs were being created for new, expectant or bereaved mothers.

“While there is still more to do, good progress has been made to improve maternity safety. Since 2010 the stillbirth rate has fallen by 25 per cent - 98,000 women still receive care from the same midwife team throughout their maternity journey, up from 10,000 women in March 2019,” she said.

Dr Phoebe Pallotti RM, midwife and Director of Sheffield Maternity Cooperative, who has been working with Ms Blake, said: “As a mother and someone who has experienced miscarriage I feel how important timely, appropriate and sensitive care is - my own experiences being unfortunately the opposite of this - in achieving a full mental and physical recovery.”

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